It’s only the second week of this column and I’m already backtracking over traditional British gaming issues, much akin to a supposedly Persian prince backtracking on the hunt for pretties to impress his latest waif, except minus the British gaming issues. Back on topic: last week I prattled on about the failure of home support for British games. Within minutes of publishing that piece I found out that Edge magazine had announced their pick of the top three games of 2008. Those would be LittleBigPlanet, Grand Theft Auto IV, and Fable II. If you’ve failed to make the connection, it’s that none of them came out for the Wii. Oh, and that they were all created by British developers. So, that’s a British magazine saying the best three games of this year were made by British people. 0 for 1 for yours truly.
After one spectacularly failed piece of retreading, I find myself yet again going back to some previously-moaned moaning and bringing up the problems surrounding games sales over here. It’s not that I want to, but when you have a catalogue of relevant stories within seven of your tiniest Earth days, it’s particularly rude to not bring it up. First we had good ol’ EA pulling the good ol’ ‘giant multinational company lying through its teeth to its customers’ shtick by using 360 footage to sell the graphically inferior Wii version of PGA Tour 09. Personally, I was just surprised that someone had used game footage in a Wii advert. Then there was the bloke in Cardiff found in possession of 1,800 DS flash carts. That was shortly followed by the lovable boys and girls at Steam announcing that rather than using exchange rates to price European games, they were just going to change the $ symbol to a £ or €. I guess they thought that the resulting mark-up was forgivable because most games are much cheaper over here, or maybe it’s because our economy is doing so well. Oh, and don’t forget the whole depressing mess with Free Radical. That’s not really relevant to the other three bulletins, but at least I’ve unlocked the achievement for featuring every piece of UK gaming news for the week.
I guess if I am going to clatter on about the same old material, I’m at least going to do it a bit differently — something that the makers of Animal Crossing: City Folk should take note of. Incidentally, why is it called Animal Crossing: Let’s Go to the City in Europe? Do Nintendo believe that Europeans don’t know the word ‘folk’? It’s a Germanic word, Nintendo, don’t you have Wikipedia in Japan?
Right, back to same old slightly different moaning. Do you remember a wee DS game by the name of Professor Layton and the Curious Village? If you don’t, it was the one with the suspicious-looking man in the black coat and the top hat, and came out earlier this year (the game, not the suspicious-looking man). It’s only just been released here in the UK, a mere nine months after it was released in the US. You can add another year for how long since the Japanese release. So, a bit too late to make a real dent over here, right? Wrong. That’s the problem with the UK. We’re so ruddy stupid with Xmas fads that the Prof and his puzzling antics have become the Buzz Lightyear must-have toy for 2008. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty good game, but it’s hardly the crack cocaine of this year’s gaming selection. I guess we’re so bereft of Nintendo games right now that the masses are clamouring for whatever little they can get their grubby little mitts on.
It’s now gotten to the stage where a game that’s actually nearly two years old is so in demand that a week ago a certain shifty online retailer was selling it for a meagre £100. That’s four times the normal asking value for an average DS game, and nearly $150, or presumably $100 if it was available through Steam. Amazing what an advert with unabashed inappropriate sexual tension can do for a game about maths, eh?
So, what’s the one ray of light for the knowledgeable British gamer? Shaking his head mournfully whilst gazing upon the ignoramuses scampering and brawling for a piece of this year’s Tamagotchi? Well, as Xmas day begins to loom and the ticking starts to get louder, they can sell their previously imported copies on to said ignoramuses for the same ridiculous fees on the same retailers’ marketplaces. Steam, take note: The resourceful British gamer will always find a way to screw the system.